How To Get The Most Out Of Your Boozy Popsicles

Popsicles are often thought of as a summertime treat for children, which stands to reason since they were invented by a kid back around the turn of the 20th century. The 11-year-old actually came up with the concept in wintertime when he accidentally left a drink with a stirring stick on the porch. He found it frozen solid a few hours later, and history was made. Kids do grow up, though, so perhaps it's no surprise that some other former nipper eventually got the idea, "Wow, I could put some booze in it." (We'll just hope they were over 21 at the time.)

Even if a summer of spiked popsicles sounds good, you should be aware that not all drinks take equally well to freezing. For this reason, Mashed asked for tips from Cody Goldstein, who founded the cocktail consulting company Muddling Memories. Yes, cocktail consulting is now a thing, if you find that aspirational. Boozy popsicle consulting, not so much, though, so perhaps that's a niche you could fill once you master the art of making them. For that, you'll need the right alcohol, the right ratio, and the right vessel.

What goes into a boozy popsicle?

As you're no doubt aware if you've ever kept a bottle of vodka in the freezer (which is perfectly okay to do, despite all the expert pearl-clutching over how it ruins the delicate flavor and impacts the viscosity, bla-de-bla-de-bla), the stuff doesn't ever freeze solid. In fact, you'd need a freezer that runs about -17 degrees Fahrenheit before this could happen, while the average household freezer should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit according to FDA recommendations. For this reason, Cody Goldstein explains that lower-proof beverages like beer, hard seltzer, wine, and liqueurs make better popsicles. "The lower the alcohol content," he says, "the better chance you will have of the popsicle freezing fully." When you use full-strength spirits like the aforementioned vodka, he tells us, "The popsicles tend to freeze wet and when you go to enjoy [them], they melt at a much quicker rate."

Yet another way to ensure that your booze attains proper popsicle consistency is to use a mixer. Goldstein favors pureed fruit, calling it "a great way to build a solid foundation." He recommends that you use four parts of fruit to one part liquor, although of course, you can adjust the ratio to use more booze and less fruit if you're sticking with something less alcoholic like beer or wine.

How can you make sure boozy popsicles keep their shape?

If you grew up eating the kind of popsicles that come on a stick (or two sticks), then you are well aware of the urgency that accompanies getting them home from the store before they melt inside the paper wrappers. If you had to take the bus or even walk to the grocery store, however, you may be more familiar with freezer pops, which are the kind of not-yet-frozen treats you can buy at Dollar Tree for a buck (and a quarter) a box. Upscale they ain't, but they're cheap and practical since that plastic sleeve they come in means they can melt and be re-frozen with no harm done. What you may not know, however, is that you can buy the sleeves separately for making your own popsicles, and Cody Goldstein suggests that you use these for DIY booze-sicles.

According to Goldstein, "Using an ice pop sleeve as your molding option ... helps reduce any issues with the popsicle not fully freezing." As he explains, these will allow your cocktail concoctions to freeze more quickly and release more easily than silicon popsicle molds. What's more, if you only bite one end off the sleeveĀ (or snip it, if you want to be all grown-up and use scissors), it'll hold the popsicle juice, too. This means that you can drink whatever part of the popsicle you're unable to eat before it melts so none of it needs to go to waste.

How much booze is in a boozy popsicle?

The size of the mold and the capacity for alcohol to freeze on its own limit the amount of booze in each popsicle. As Cody Goldstein sees it, "Standard popsicles tend to have roughly a shot's worth ... of alcohol inside to ensure they freeze correctly." Even this estimate may be on the high side, though, since he also tells us, "The popsicle needs to have enough water and sugar content to fully become firm."

If you are taking Goldstein's recommendation to use a freezer pop sleeve, standard freezer pops are about an ounce and a half, while silicon popsicle molds usually run between 2 and 4 ounces. If you then make your booze popsicles using Goldstein's ratio of four parts mixer to one part alcohol, this means you'll only have between 0.3 and 0.8 ounces of your chosen booze in each pop. As previously mentioned, if you use a lower-ABV beverage, you can use less of the non-alcoholic mixer, but even if you make, say, a popsicle out of nothing but beer (which you could do since the stuff will freeze), one 12-ounce beer could make between three and eight popsicles depending on the mold.

What types of booze are best for popsicles?

When it comes to picking a type of alcohol to use in a popsicle, Cody Goldstein has already staked out his position on using lower-proof ones such as wines and liqueurs because these freeze better. If you are bound and determined to use a full-strength spirit, however, he suggests that you stick with ones that are lighter in color such as vodka, white rum, gin, or tequila.

As Goldstein remarks, "Clear spirits tend to mesh better with juices, purees, and fruits than dark spirits such as whiskey, rum, or cognac." The latter ones, he feels, "tend to overpower the popsicle." In order for your popsicle to taste fresh and fruity like the sweet dessert it's meant to be, he thinks you should keep to clear spirits. As you'll most likely be using fruit as a mixer, at least if you're following Goldstein's advice, one of the many fruit-flavored vodkas or rums on the market would be a great choice for popsicle-making.

What drinks go best on a stick?

One way to go about making boozy popsicles is to take a cocktail that you are already familiar with and turn it into frozen form. Not every drink will work, though. Something spirit-forward like an Old Fashioned, a drink that Cody Goldstein describes as "predominantly whiskey and some sugar and bitters," simply won't freeze since it's too boozy to do so. A Wisconsin Old Fashioned made with soda and fruit, however, is an entirely different thing, and the Wisconsin State Fair has been known to serve up slushie "Cold Fashioneds" that would take well to freezing.

In Goldstein's experience, "Any cocktail that leans into fruit or sparkling tends to be best for a popsicle." He suggests that both cosmos and mojitos could freeze well, while frozen mimosas and micheladas should also work as these are both fizzy and, in the case of the former, fruity, and both are sufficiently low in alcohol that freezing won't be a problem. Goldstein also suggests that one of his favorites for freezing is spiked iced tea. As he explains, "Tea ... is mostly water based so will freeze very easily but the leaves add a nice color and flavor while not diluting the texture of the ice pop."